“Ni una más, ni una más, ni una asesinada más!” These chants could be heard in El Paso, Texas, after the homophobic murder of lesbian couple Yulisza Ramírez and Nohemí Medina Martínez in Ciudad Juárez on January 15.
Feminists from Juárez–El Paso gathered Saturday afternoon outside the General Consulate of Mexico in downtown El Paso. They were joined by activists and organizers from the migrants rights, labor rights, anti-racist, environmental, and education movements to stand in solidarity with the Juarenses organizing against femicide and to “denounce the homophobia, misogyny, and patriarchy that cause this violence.”
The murder of Yulisza and Nohemí occurred days after the two-year anniversary of Juarense artist and activist Isabel Cabanilla de la Torre’s murder. On January 17 in Juárez, a candlelight vigil was held for Isabel.
“I think the violence has increased too much, with more cruelty than before,” said Reyna de la Torres, Isabel’s mother, on the night of the two-year anniversary for her daughter’s murder. So far in January 2022, 11 women have been killed in Juárez. According to police, Most of the 500 murders of women in the past three years have been drug related, with 171 of those murders in 2021 alone.
During a moment of mourning, music was played from Danza de San Isidro, of which Nohemí was a dancer, reminding those present of the ceaseless femicides that have threatened women in Paso del Norte since the seeds of NAFTA were sown in 1993. Organizers of the vigil were persistent in reminding those present that the chief causes of these murders are not drugs, as Chihuahua state police would have us believe, but the violence of patriarchy and border imperialism.
First, organizer Cassandra Alicia spoke about challenging the flippant dismissal of femicides as due to drug involvement, and the necessity for radical activists to show true solidarity with Juarenses’ struggles. This, she said, indicates the chauvinistic nature of activism in El Paso. She added that the border should not be an obstacle for international solidarity, given that the two cities have always been one community.
Cassandra added that the Mexican state’s response, escalating the militarization of Juárez, will do nothing to stop the murders. She also condemned the militarization on the U.S. side of the border, demanding that both sides of the border be demilitarized.
To truly fight back against homophobic, misogynistic, and patriarchal violence, we need to build a mass movement that will mobilize for every murder, a vigil for every femicide. Organizers and activists must take lessons from our comrades across Latin America and take the necessary steps to develop a radical, politically independent movement for gender rights. This includes denouncing the violent, imperialist policies of both dominant political parties in the U.S., demanding open borders, and developing an international movement that fights for change, a movement that is not limited by the lines on the map drawn by slavers and war profiteers.